As we have watched the many inspiring performances at the recent Olympic Games in Sochi, I can’t help but note the similarity to a quality educational experience. The time and commitment necessary for the Olympic athletes to achieve success is significant. So too, the effort required to successfully work through education to a fulfilling career is also significant. The support team necessary to produce Olympic gold must be well-trained, collaborative and focused on a goal that together they are able to attain.Likewise, our school district staff team embodies such a winning team and supports students of all ages and abilities in the most important of journeys; that of preparing for a career and life in general.
The pursuit of excellence does not have a great margin of error. So too, research tells us that by 2020, sixty-eight percent of the available jobs in Washington State will require a post-secondary degree of some type. Given this information, our focused target is to have South Kitsap School District students, all of them – no exceptions, ready for this reality. Our goal is to minimally have eighty percent of our graduates able to effectively enter post-secondary education by 2020. This includes technical schools, two year colleges, four year colleges and universities, the military, etc. The standard for college and career ready is no longer different. With the second largest technical skills employer in the northwest in our backyard, the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS), it is a great opportunity for us to collaborate for student success.
Having recently met with the leadership from PSNS, it is clear that a first collaborative step in support of student success is to raise the level of rigor in our mathematics instructional program. Given that mathematics determines eighty-four percent of our current career choices, raising our expectations for math attainment is necessary. We are working hard to address these new challenges and requirements. Just as snow and ice conditions created adjustments in Olympic strategies, so to we must continue to be nimble in response to the changing workplace demands so that our graduates will prevail and our community will be stronger for their efforts. We continue to build on the winning traditions of this great district and community and thank you for your continued support of this challenging work.
We are all well aware of and even likely participating in the excitement surrounding the upcoming Super Bowl game. There are 12th Man flags everywhere and blue and green colors being sported on every corner, in our schools, and in most places of work. Young and old, athletes or not, we are all united by the excitement and energy of the Seahawks season and big game ahead. We are actively engaged!
Imagine what that energy would be like supporting all of our young people and their studies. The importance of parent and community engagement in the schools is critical to the success of each child as well as the future success of our community as a whole.
In a recent article, Thomas Friedman, three time Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the New York Times, wonders; “Are we falling behind as a country in education… because of our culture today: too many parents and too many kids just don’t take education seriously enough and don’t want to put in the work needed today to really excel?” He even goes so far as to wonder if a lagging work ethic might be a possibility for the “key cause of income inequality and persistent poverty in our country.”
In thinking about this possibility, I am reminded that we set both the example and the boundaries for our young people. Our energy, excitement, and engagement in their education are critical predictors of their success. I invite parents and community members to join us, the staff of the South Kitsap School District, in being the 12th person for our students, all of them – no exceptions!
And so, the recent Christmas holiday is now past; but, the memories of generous and compassionate acts by so many of the students and staff in the school district will certainly remain in the hearts and minds of many families in this community. I am so overwhelmed by the generous hearts and hands of this great district. We recently compiled data on the ‘giving’ activities represented by every school and department in the school district. In all, over 150 families were directly sponsored by students and staff with food, clothing, household items, toys and winter gear for the holidays. Other charities supported included Helpline, Threads of Hope, veterans support, etc.
At the high school alone, students held a Holiday Toy Drive for a local domestic violence shelter, collected over 1,100 food items, worked extra time in the Food Bank and helped to distribute Holiday Food Baskets, and collected cards and small gifts for classmates recently diagnosed with cancer. Late on the Friday before the Christmas Break, word was sent out by high school office staff that a student’s family had recently had their power turned off and could anyone spare some change to help so this family could have heat for the holidays. In less than an hour, support staff from the transportation department, district office, and the high school collected more than $300; enough to pay the entire power bill. What a Christmas miracle for this family, and what an example of the true spirit of Christmas…
At a time when we often hear such negative press about our children and staff, I want to set the record straight that we have incredibly talented, hardworking,compassionate and generous children, young people and staff in this district and community. “Christmas is forever, not for just one day; for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf. The good you do for others is good you do yourself...” ~Norman Wesley Brooks (U.S.design engineer, 1923-2002)
The example the staff and students have set for all of us is noteworthy and promises a bright future for this incredible community and great nation. As we look forward to the New Year ahead of us, I know you will join me in having great expectations for this continued charitable spirit to abound. May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace, and may the joy of Christmas bring you hope for a joyful New Year.
Last evening, at the Board meeting, we had the opportunity to honor two of our transportation staff members. Larry Durfey, a driver for us, was recognized for his quick thinking and keeping children safe in what could have been a terrible accident. Another one of our staff family members, Mark Jackson, ajourneyman mechanic, maintains the oldest of our buses and has a 100% safety record with his work. These two gentlemen exemplify what excellence in the South Kitsap School District means. What an honor it is to support these two staff members and work alongside them to nurture growth, inspire achievement, and build community.
As part of our Ends 3 presentation at the Board table, we had several of our South Kitsap HS DECA program, (the marketing program,) studentspresent to the Board. They did a fabulous job of articulating how important the DECA program is and how it is helping them develop their skills to better face their chosen future. We also heard from Our G.E.M.S.(Our Girls Empowered through Mentoring and Service), Ms. Harriette Bryant, President/CEO and Ms. Vicki M. Collins, and their good work with our young women. Finally, all three of our junior high principals talked about their strong commitment to meeting the 100% goal of having all our eligible College Bound Scholarship students signed up for this opportunity. They were inspiring in their commitment to excellence for our young students.
I am pleased to report that there were 100 plus people who packed the Dragonfly Cinema to join the conversation and be part of the Education Town Hall meeting held on Tuesday evening. Congratulations to John Richardson, SKEA leadership and Representative Seaquist for organizing such a fruitful evening of discourse. All five members of the School Board were also present,showing strong solidarity with staff, parents and community members. School finance and freedoms were main items on the agenda, along with worker compensation and health care cost challenges. More to come on this topic. Please plan to join us for future conversations.
I am thrilled to report that thirty people showed up for the Innovative ProgramsTask Force. Again, staff, parents and community all shared many interesting ideas. We will be meeting twice a month for the foreseeable future and have an ambitious agenda of inspired thought. More to come on this topic.
I am also planning to launch several book study groups in the coming months that will be open to any staff in the district. I recently received an e-mail from a teacher in the district with the following thought, “I have long been a Diane Ravitch fan and found her Reign of Terror book to be enthralling and thought provoking.” I have not read the book; but, acknowledge it would be more fun to read it and discuss it with several of you who are likewise interested. I am sure there are other provocative titles out there and would be willing to explore a way for us to read and discuss these topics in an effort to build on the already incredible work that is ongoing in this great district.
It has been said that the difference between a very good school system and a uniquely exceptional school system can be found in the achievement level of its least advantaged students. I know that what I have observed over the last couple of weeks in all schools is a uniquely exceptional compassion and care for all students. I have met my goal of being in every classroom in the district by December 20. I am so impressed with the work, compassion and care, and spirit in each school. I remain both honored and humbled to serve you.
I wish that you and yours enjoy a blessed and joyful holiday season upcoming.
I trust my note finds each of you well and enjoying a bustling holiday season. While things have been a bit cold, OK really cold , I want to thank our facilities and maintenance folks for keeping us warm. Also, many thanks for the transportation folks who have been up extraordinarily early these past weeks,and traveled many miles of icy and dangerous roads to deliver students safely to and from home during this cold weather. We each have such a unique role in the education of the whole child and all the support necessary to make our vision a reality for all children in the district – no exceptions. It really does take a whole district to support and educate a whole child.
Last Friday, I had the opportunity to attend the Kitsap County Human RightsConference with a number of teachers and students from our district. We were so well represented. Our students made us all proud with their thoughts, introspection and commitment to supporting human rights for all students and staff in our district and community. As a result of the conversations and presentations, I am convinced they also understand a bit more about the need for this support in the larger community we all find ourselves in both regionally and at the state and national levels. What a great instructional moment and provocative call to renewed action.
I want to take a moment and thank Jerry Holsten and Ed Santos and the high school office staff who have worked so hard to make good on a commitment linked to bargaining this past summer. The topic of athletic passes for staff who are willing to help supervise students when they attend events was one that was discussed at some length. Jerry and Ed,and their respective staffs, have developed a form for staff members to sign and will distribute the passes which allow free attendance at SKHS home athletic events for any employee in the district, either classified or certificated. Keeping commitments, both small and large, build trust.
In the interest of transparency in our budget challenged times, I want to let you know we are in the process of procuring two (2) used buses from Bremerton SD to meet our transportation service needs that have increased due to 9th grade activity buses and one bus with a blown engine, i.e. not economical to repair. The two buses are 1999 Thomas transit buses (flat nose) with undercarriages. They have approximately 170K miles each. The cost to the district is $2,500.00 each, or $5K total. This is the scrap value Bremerton SD received for their last two buses they have moved to surplus and is a fair market price and we will also receive a full tank of gas with each bus ;>). Ironically, the two buses are newer then fifteen (15) buses we currently have in service here in the district. These busses, and the requisite five thousand dollars to pay for them, come out of the vehicle transportation replacement fund set aside by the state, and not the general fund.
The District Math Task Force led by Shannon Thompson, continues its deliberations as they wrestle with alignment challenges in our K-12 curriculum across the district. Their charge is multi-faceted and ambitious for this year. Please consider following the progress of this group by checking in at http://www.skitsap.wednet.edu/Page/13048.
Many thanks to those who are working so hard on this important topic.
This afternoon, the Innovative Programs Task Force will have its first meeting here at the Board room in the district office. I am looking forward to this group and its ‘think tank’ approach for our work ahead. If you have thought about attending and not yet sent an RSVP to Robbie, please still feel free to join us at 4:30 – 6:00 pm.
Many thanks to John Richardson and the leadership of SKEA as they have worked to organize an Education Town Hall for next week here in Port Orchard. I understand that Rep. Larry Seaquist will be joining the public and any of us who would like to attend at the Dragonfly Cinema in downtown Port Orchard for an evening of discussion aimed at improving our educational system. Clearly a worthy topic and I look forward to seeing many of you there to join the dialog beginning at 5:00 pm on Tuesday, December 17.
The Citizen’s Budget Advisory Team (CBAT) will be approved for membership at theBoard meeting next week. There will be fifteen community members and a representative of each of the five unions seated on the committee. Look for more to come on this topic after the winter holidays.
I want to close by thanking all of you for continuing this journey with me. In the last week, our world has lost a great leader and a model for humble servant work that transformed a country and quite possibly the world. I wonder if Nelson Mandela could have possibly contemplated, while sitting in his cell for 27 years, that over 100,000 people would attend his memorial service,that four United States Presidents would attend and many world leaders would gather to celebrate his life and the difference he made for so many. What a powerful vision freedom is and the capacity to extend grace even under duress. How many lives have been changed and children’s’ dreams realized. One of my favorite quotes from President Mandela is:
“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me,to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”
--- Nelson Mandela; Former President of South Africa
I know that we each understand the responsibilities of keeping the vision alive for our children, all of them, and the community we serve. It is not easy; but, it matters…. Thank you so much for all you do, especially when it is difficult, to make such a difference in the lives of our children in this great district. It will get better. We will look back on these most difficult months and gain strength from what we have been able to do as we ensure a brighter future.
As I reflect on the Thanksgiving Holiday, I am struck by the many blessings we each have and often do not take the time to acknowledge. I am reminded of the many acts of kindness and generosity that so many in our community are apart of regularly and quietly. We are so thankful for the staff andcommunity of the South Kitsap School District. Without the many volunteers in our schools each and every day, our district would not be as strong as it is and the many hours of volunteer time enrich the lives and fabric of our great district and community.
In the district, we have a clear and focused initiative titled 'Whole Child, WholeCommunity. At this time of the year, I want to express our gratefulness as a district for the 'Whole Community'. Currently, we have 4223 community volunteers in our district contributing thousands of hours of service and support to our students on a daily basis. Ms. Dena Guglielmo, Volunteer Coordinator at John Sedgwick Junior High School, summed it up nicely, “Volunteers are the vital third side of our triangle; without them, we would topple over. Students, staff and volunteers make our District a great place to be!”
Our Whole Child Whole Community initiative relies on this relationship. The many ways in which the community volunteers include, classroom help, library, gardens, drama, dances, art project help, athletics, health screenings, field day, field trips, camp,graduation, WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) program, popcorn, picture day, and a variety of PTSO events.
I consider myself so fortunate to be here and be able to serve and support this great community and want to extend my heartfelt wishes to each of you for a happy Thanksgiving. Even with all the hardships of the past year, the incredible resilience of this community are both remarkable and inspiring. Gratitude gives sense to our past, ushers peace for today and conjures a vision for the days to come…
May the Thanksgiving spirit add a special feeling of joy to your life, and give you even more reasons to be thankful from day to day!
We are so thankful for all the support. Thank you.
SKSD Taking Uncommon Care With Common Core Implementation
Posted by Michelle Reid at 11/12/2013
As the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are being implemented across the country, in more than 45 states at current count, we in the South Kitsap School District are working very hard to provide the best instructional experience for all our students. The CCSS are new standards for our students in the areas of Mathematics and English Language Arts & Literacy. These new standards are more rigorous in nature and are important across the country as they provide a map for students and their families both for their K-12 education and education beyond high school. The big idea is to better prepare children for success in college and in the workplace. The National PTA has great resources and information on their web-site:http://pta.org/parents/content.cfm?ItemNumber=2910.
It is important for us to have clear targets for children and to have strong academic materials or curriculum in the hands of teachers to support the teaching and learning. As we continue to maintain high expectations for our children, we must also provide high support. We have excellent teachers and support staff working on this implementation.
If you have children in our elementary schools, you will have noticed we are in the middle of piloting a new CCSS aligned math curriculum at this time. We have provided parent letters and information and will continue to include parents in our deliberations about the new materials. We have also seated a District Math Curriculum Committee that will be reviewing our current math curriculum K-12 and be making recommendations. This committee is made up of teachers from every school and program in the district, principals from each grade level, parents, a college professor and our Director of Teaching and Learning facilitating. I have provided a charge to the committee that outlines the expectations for the work to be done this year. We are looking forward to continuing our strong traditions in this district of preparing our students for success beyond high school.
In meeting with the Parent Council earlier this month, we discussed my joining different PTA groups over the next few months and continuing our dialog about the new CCSS and their impact on our district work. I look forward to our continued conversation on this very important topic.
It is certainly moving into fall with the fog and cooler weather. Children across the district are working hard on a variety of studies and parent conferences are progressing across the district.
As we have had a recent wildlife incident at one of our elementary schools, I want to remind everyone how important it is to notify an adult or school official if they see a wild animal on or about the school grounds. Please remember to not touch a wild animal and particularly not to go near an animal that is not 'behaving normally'. As a result of the appearance of a bat on the grounds of Hidden Creek Elementary School, which has since been tested and identified as having rabies, all parents at the school have been notified of the safety guidelines in this regard.
While no direct human exposure to the diseased bat was reported, we are still taking the opportunity to have a teachable moment on recommendations with regard to interacting with wild animals and in particular, bats. The safety of our students and staff is a priority.
We were deeply saddened to learn of the shooting that occurred this morning at a middle school in Nevada. Reports are varying and information is emerging, but media is reporting that a teacher and the shooter were killed and two students seriously injured. Our thoughts and prayers are with those children, their families and with our colleagues in Nevada.
We can anticipate media, student, and parental inquiries. School principals are prepared to appropriately respond to his or her school community.
It is a struggle for adults and children alike to try to comprehend why and how such a senseless and shocking incident could occur. Excessive and repeated media viewing can create increased anxiety and therefore limiting ongoing exposure is recommended. We have asked our schools and school guidance counselors to provide emotional support for students. Additionally, talking about the incident can be a healthy way for families to process their feelings and reactions to an event of this nature.
How to help children cope:
• Listen to and accept children’s feelings. • Give honest, simple, brief answers to their questions. • Make sure they understand your answers and the meaning you intend. • Use words or phrases that won’t confuse a child or make the world more frightening. • Create opportunities for children to talk with each other about what happened and how they are feeling.
• Give your child an honest explanation. If you are feeling so upset you don’t want to talk about what happened, you may want to take “time out” and ask a trusted family friend to help.
• If children keep asking the same question over and over again it is because they are trying to understand; trying to make sense out of the disruption and confusion in their world. Younger children will not understand that death is permanent, so their repeated inquiries are because they expect everything to return to normal.
• If the child feels guilty, ask him or her to explain what happened. Listen carefully to whether he or she attaches a sense of responsibility to some part of the description. Explain the facts of the situation and emphasize that no one, least of all the child, could have prevented it. • Let the school help. The child’s teacher can be sensitive to changes in the child’s behavior and will be able to respond in a helpful way. • Even if you feel the world is an unsafe place, you can reassure your child by saying, “The event is over. Now we’ll do everything possible to stay safe, and together we can help get things back to normal.”
• Notice when children have questions and want to talk.
• Be especially loving and supportive; children need you even more at this time.
We will put a greater focus on our own emergency planning and response at our school sites and offices. This will include a greater emphasis on drills and practice. This story, along with other school shootings, will undoubtedly be a focus of discussion and a source of concern for some time to come. Today is a tragic day. Our thoughts and hearts go out to the students, staff and families in Nevada.
I would like to note that the mornings are certainly much darker than they have been earlier this school year. Many of our children and young people are walking to bus stops and school in the dark and the fog. I would encourage parents and young people to consider wearing brighter and more reflective outerwear as they make their way to school and bus stops on these dark mornings.
I would also ask that those of us driving be extra careful about speed limits in and around schools and bus stops as the days darken. Some of these paths are on busy streets and we all need to be careful.